Technology lets customers skip checkout line
in a long checkout line or waiting for a server to return with the check are an
annoyance for customers and diners. That's why some stores and restaurants are
testing a variety of new checkout and ordering systems that help customers skip
a taste of how businesses are using checkout streamlining systems -- and some
food for thought to digest before you integrate them into your business.
streamlining picks up steam
businesses and large retailers alike are getting in on the trend. Here are a
few of the recent developments.
Upscale retailer Nordstrom began moving
its payment operations away from traditional checkout lanes in 2011. The
company now provides employees with modified iPod Touch devices that function
as full POS systems, enabling customers to make their purchases anywhere in the
In December 2011, service industry
software developer HubWorks Interactive has
been testing an iPad ordering and payment system at Buffalo Wild Wings
restaurants in Toronto and Minneapolis. An iPad with a card reader attached to
the tables allows customers to browse the menu, place orders and pay for their
meals without the assistance of a server.
In December 2012, payment technology
company NCR introduced the NCR
Mobile Pay app for restaurants. With NCR Mobile Pay, restaurant patrons can
either scan a QR code or use their mobile browser to access a URL that displays
their check. They can review their order, add to it and alert their server when
they need help. To pay for their meal, diners simply enter their credit card
information into NCR Mobile Pay's secure, encrypted system, which is integrated
into the restaurant's point-of-sale systems. NCR says that its Mobile Pay
system helps improve order accuracy, increases speed of service and reduce
credit card fraud because the actual credit card is never handled by a server.
Wal-Mart has been experimenting with a
mobile self-checkout system, called Scan and Go. The test has so far been
limited to Wal-Mart employees, who can use an app on their iPhones to scan items
as they shop in the chain's Bentonville, Ark., store. The system does not
include the ability to complete the purchases via mobile phone, however. Wal-Mart
began using the Scan and Go system in August 2012, but has not had much to say
about its plans for expanding the offering to all customers or to additional
is a mobile app that lets retail store shoppers skip the checkout lines. It is
currently being deployed in the Myers Group IGA grocery stores in the northwest
Grocery shoppers download the QThru app
-- available for both the iOS and Android operating systems -- and provide
their credit card information, which is stored in a secure, PCI
DSS-compliant, payment cloud. Using
their mobile device as a scanner, customers can then check out items as they go
down the aisles.
Because the QThru system already
has the payment information stored, QThru transactions don't have to go through
the normal checkout process.
"QThru provides a small kiosk off to the side so that shoppers get their own
superfast mobile checkout lane," says Aaron Roberts, the company's CEO.
of checkout streamlining
helping customers make purchases more efficiently, some checkout streamlining
options encourage loyalty and interactivity.NCR
Mobile Pay allows diners to post restaurant reviews and share their experiences
via their social media networks. QThru, meanwhile, can pick up and integrate
any customer loyalty program that the retailer already offers.
opens up a lot of interesting ways to bring customers back into the store,"
Roberts says. For example, retailers can send coupons offering discounts or a
free item to customers who use the QThru system.
added benefit: Helping customers check out quickly might get them to spend
more. According to Forbes
Magazine, both the average number of items sold and the average selling
price of items at Nordstrom have increased since Nordstrom began equipping its
sales reps with mobile checkout gear.
Roberts doesn't have the figures for the average dollar amount per purchase for
QThru users, but says that the grocery stores have seen customers using their
mobile phones to check out as much as $70 or $80 worth of merchandise.
tend to think that the people who are going to use it are just the ones who
want to get in and out of the store quickly, but perhaps we're changing their
behavior a bit," he says. "Knowing that they can get out of a store
quickly may even encourage people to spend more. We have noticed, over time,
that there has been an increase in basket size."
thing that could slow the adoption of checkout streamlining systems is
retailers' reluctance to use self-checkout systems. Although self-checkouts are
expected to increase by 10 percent in the next several years, according to an
April 2012 story
by USA Today, some big retailers such as Ikea and the Albertsons' grocery store
chain have pulled out their self-checkout lanes. They say it's because self-checkout lanes
don't allow them to provide good customer service, but losses from shoplifting
may also play a role.
says QThru has built loss protection into the service, flagging store personnel
to double-check any high-margin items.
a little more scrutiny that goes into the approval process," he says. "[Store
personnel] are looking in your basked with the receipt, just like they might at
a Costco or Sam's Club."
self-checkouts aren't appropriate for every type of store, either. Magic Beans, a toy and baby store with five
Massachusetts locations, tested AisleBuyer, an app that lets customers pay by
phone and skip the lines, for about two years before Intuit took the company
over and shut down the app's further development.
Beans isn't looking for a replacement because they found the system didn't fit
their business model.
depends on the merchants and what their service level is like," says Isaac Judd
chief operating officer of Magic Beans. "We interact a lot with our customers
and spend a lot of time with them, so self-checkout was less necessary for us
than it might be for other stores." He said the system was used most heavily around
the holidays, when customers could use it to avoid long lines.
Beans will be looking at a different approach in the future, looking at a
mobile payment system that doesn't involve self-checkout, Judd says.
See related: 6
ways to streamline your online checkout
gift cards can give small businesses an edge
Published: February 26,2020